Patricia's Reviews > Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story

Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd
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Sep 07, 2011

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This book is a memoir written by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor, about their travels together in Greece, France and Turkey. When Sue was on the verge of turning 50, she invited her daughter to accompany her on a trip to Europe. She wanted to celebrate her 50th birthday in Greece and to give Ann a graduation present. The book is written in alternating chapters by Sue and Ann, who each offer their impressions of the sites that they visit. For that reason, it is somewhat unique.

Each woman had been to Greece before. Sue had visited Greece in 1993 and Ann had toured the country with some classmates during her junior year of college. Ann felt that her destiny was to study ancient Greek history and perhaps become a professor, but her plans suffered a setback when she didn't get accepted by the graduate school she hoped to attend. The rejection left her with a feeling of depression. Sue sensed that something was wrong, but Ann found it difficult to confide in her mother. Ann's concerns are those of a young woman. She worries about the direction her life will take, and how to maintain her independence and autonomy while in a close relationship. Meanwhile, Sue is struggling with her own problems, worrying about the approach of old age and her own mortality and a feeling that her creativity is waning. She explores the myth of Demeter and Persephone as a parallel for the growing emotional distance between her and Ann. Meanwhile, Ann begins to find her own support system by turning to religious and mythological figures, such as Joan of Arc, the Virgin Mary and Athena, for guidance.

Sue and Ann's first trip to Greece took place before Sue wrote her phenomenally successful novel, The Secret Life of Bees. There is a great deal of inward reflection about religious and mythological symbols and the Divine Feminine as Sue visits ancient shrines. This is only natural, I suppose, considering Sue's previous writings on feminism and religion. However, at times I wished she would just dispense with her metaphysical musings and continue with the travelogue. Mother and daughter do become closer during the trip. Profound insights that she gains on her journey help Sue to realize her long-held ambition to become a writer of fiction, while Ann discovers her own talent for writing. After a little over a year, the women return to Greece and France with a tour group.

Readers will learn as much as they probably want to know about the myth of Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate, along with the significance of pomegranates. They will also learn about religious sites, including shrines dedicated to Black Madonnas. I thought the memoir was very interesting and honest, but it tends to be rather somber in tone.

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